Are Educational TV Shows Effective Teachers?

Are Educational TV Shows Effective Teachers?

An analysis of the important role the media plays in our child's education.
75
views

It seems like the perfect innovation: a device that provides entertaining, interactive education to your child 24/7 free of cost (with the exception of the monthly cable bill, of course), allowing you to safely plant them in front of the screen while you work or savor your free time. Since it's conception, the television has consistently been one of the most constantly-evolving pieces of technology; it started with the intent to spread news and entertainment to the masses and served little purpose beyond that, and was primarily intended for adults. This changed during the late-1940's with the creation of shows such as Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Howdy Doody, and Captain Kangaroowhich served the purpose of entertaining children rather than adults.

While TV was often regarded as mindless entertainment, this would change as a new dimension of children's media emerged in 1969; with the creation of the instant hit Sesame Street came a flood of innovative new shows for children that not only sought to entertain, but also to educate. While productive in theory, many parents debate whether or not this "hands-free" approach to learning is actually helping their children to grasp preschool concepts, or if it's simply a toned-down form of child neglect. Does educational television actually help children learn, or is it too good to be true?

The first benefit of educational television comes in the form of accessibility. A child coming from a financially-strained family may not be able to attend preschool (an issue I've previously tackled), but can easily turn on the TV to have access to similar knowledge they'd be expected to learn in preschool. The basic comprehension of numbers and letters, for example, is a fundamental part of childhood development, and though it's ideal for a physical entity, such as a teacher or parent, to teach these to a child, a parent may not have the funds to send their child to preschool, and may spend a majority of the day working. This is, of course, where educational programming has an advantage; it's accessible and reliant, providing an otherwise uneducated child with the information they'll need in a fun and interactive way.

Another major benefit deals with how vast and widespread television is. While this may seem like a drawback to many, as an overly-generalized approach can ostracize minorities, many educational TV shows have actually done the contrary. Naturally, education on certain topics differs between locations; a preschooler from San Francisco is going to lear about different societal issues and norms than a preschooler from small-town Georgia. My own mother, for example, grew up in a small village in Illinois during the 1970's, just a few decades after the ban (yes, ban) on blacks in the county was lifted. Naturally, the first time she was exposed to non-white individuals was through the media-- specifically, Sesame Street, which was famously known for being one of the first children's shows to feature a racially-diverse cast. This came as such a culture shock to the American population that Mississippi actually attempted to ban Sesame Street from airing in the state, fearing that it would confuse children seeing a fully-integrated cast. Racial diversity isn't the only area where Sesame Street has proven to be a positive source of societal progression-- also featured in the show was a segment about breastfeeding, a cast member with Down Syndrome, a muppet whose father is incarcerated, a song empowering natural hair, and even an episode that tackled the sensitive topic of death. For many children, this would be their only means of learning about such topics, as most preschools shy away from them. Introducing these topics also gives parents a great opportunity to discuss them with their child, giving the topics a preface and reason to be discussed. For minority children in less diverse settings, this can provide a sense of inclusion and representation; A young Mexican-American girl may consider the curious and corageous Dora the Explorer to be a role model, for example-- I personaly find Julia, the first-ever muppet with autism, to be a great example of representation for myself. Though reading, writing, and math are integral parts of education, it's imperative that children learn about the world around them and the people within it.

Though it's clear that TV offers an accessable education with different perspectives than a preschool classroom, what are the shortcomings of educational TV? Well, the main issue with it is that many parents rely on it to be their child's sole educator, which professionals strongly discourage; unlike a teacher, who can stop, repeat, and answer questions, the TV can only go forward,at a pace that may not be ideal for certain children. The child cannot ask questions on puzzling topics, which can lead them to either not grasp-- or worse-- misunderstand a lesson. Schools also provide social interaction, teaching children how to communicate and cooperate with other children and adults, which is something the TV can't provide; Schools give children a strict schedule they must adhere and adapt to, and teaches proper behavior and management skills. The child cannot learn from experiences from the TV like they can at a preschool, where many lessons and ideas are coneyed through the senses; all they can do is watch. Another major issue boils down to the unhealthy nature of watching TV; when a child learns in a school environment, play and physical activity are encouraged, while excessive TV watching can cause a child to become lethargic.

So, now that we know the pros and cons of educational TV, what can we take from this? Well, like most things, educational programming is good... In moderation; to properly learn, children need the aid of an adult who can discuss and explain concepts to them. In reality, educational TV is most effective when used as a supplement, rather than the primary source, of education. It's important that parents and teachers, rather than the media, lead the education of children. So, no, there's nothing wrong with your child watching TV, but it is important that you know what your child is watching, and provide further information on what they're being taught. As previously mentioned, these shows can spark a conversation between you and your child, and can give you the opportunity to teach them with a hands-on approach. This approach is supported by the creators of Sesame Street, who decided to air their episode about death on Thanksgiving, when children would be around many adults to help support their understanding.

In the end, it's important that we realize the importance of discussing things with our children, and guiding them through the world of education by hand, rather than by screen.

Cover Image Credit: http://extras.mnginteractive.com

Popular Right Now

50 One-Liners College Girls Swap With Their Roomies As Much As They Swap Clothes

"What would I do without you guys???"
90587
views

1. "Can I wear your shirt out tonight?"

2. "Does my hair look greasy?"

3. "We should probably clean tomorrow..."

4. "What should I caption this??"

5. "Is it bad if I text ____ first??"

6. "Should we order pizza?"

7. *Roommate tells an entire story* "Wait, what?"

8. "How is it already 3 AM?"

9. "I need a drink."

10. "McDonalds? McDonalds."

11. "GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED."

12. "Okay like, for real, I need to study."

13. "Why is there so much hair on our floor?"

14. "I think I'm broke."

15. "What do I respond to this?"

16. "Let's have a movie night."

17. "Why are we so weird?"

18. "Do you think people will notice if I wear this 2 days in a row?"

19. "That guy is so stupid."

20. "Do I look fat in this?"

21. "Can I borrow your phone charger?

22. "Wanna go to the lib tonight?"

23. "OK, we really need to go to the gym soon."

24. "I kinda want some taco bell."

25. "Let's go out tonight."

26. "I wonder what other people on this floor think of us."

27. "Let's go to the mall."

28. "Can I use your straightener?"

29. "I need coffee."

30. "I'm bored, come back to the room."

31. "Should we go home this weekend?"

32. "We should probably do laundry soon."

33. "Can you see through these pants?"

34. "Sometimes I feel like our room is a frat house..."

35. "Guys I swear I don't like him anymore."

36."Can I borrow a pencil?"

37. "I need to get my life together...."

38. "So who's buying the Uber tonight?"

39. "Let's walk to class together."

40. "Are we really pulling an all-nighter tonight?"

41. "Who's taking out the trash?"

42. "What happened last night?"

43. "Can you help me do my hair?"

44. "What should I wear tonight?"

45. "You're not allowed to talk to him tonight."

46. "OMG, my phone is at 1 percent."

47. "Should we skip class?"

48. "What should we be for Halloween?"

49. "I love our room."

50. "What would I do without you guys???"

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Gabaldon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Being An Underdog Is A Hard Pill To Swallow, But It's The Best Victory You'll Earn

Be prepared to be underestimated and to turn heads.

447
views

In the past few years, I have noticed l have been labeled as an underdog, even if the direct term wasn't always used to describe me. Whether it was running for officer positions or in life in general, I have been an underdog.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an Underdog is:

a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest.

When I first came to this realization, that people considered me an underdog in things, I felt embarrassed and hurt. People underestimated me; my strengths weren't on the surface. It definitely was a self-confidence killer, but as time has passed and I've thought about it before, I am proud to be an underdog.

I remember my senior year of high school when people were surprised I was selected to compete on an academic team and that I had the second highest grade in my Advanced Chemistry class.

People assumed I wasn't smart enough, and I had people chasing me down the hallway questioning what my GPA was or what my ACT score was.

Being upset, a few people made comments that I heard, and it definitely deflated my attitude about competing. It seemed that hardly anyone believed I was capable of being smart because I wasn't in the top 10% of my class or maybe because I wasn't vocal about how challenging my classes were. I worked hard, always trying to better myself, and hoping to achieve my goals, no matter if it was academic or personal. Even if some of my classmates didn't see the potential in me, my chemistry teacher did and the took a chance on me. Sometimes being quiet and focusing on the work you have been given, takes you off people's radar of achieving success.

Underdogs are all over pop culture and in history.

Whether it was Average Joe's from the movie "Dodgeball," David against Goliath in the Bible, or during March Madness when that one team no one expected to do well and then they wreck everyone's brackets.

My personal favorite underdog is Alex Karev from "Grey's Anatomy."

He came from a not stable or safe home when he was young, had to work, fight, and sometimes lie to become the doctor he is now. When he first came to work at the hospital, he was not on people's radars of success and not a favorite character in the TV Show, but slowly you became to love Karev and hope he keeps reaching for the stars. Being an underdog might mean you face uphill battles, doubts, and shocked faces, but those moments will motivate you to do more and be more. They are the people or teams, once they start being successful, you cheer for in hopes that the underdog will win. The concept that "everyone loves an underdog" comes this, but in the end, success, whether you are an underdog or not, can bring people hating you on the flip side.

Realizing you are an underdog can be a hard pill to swallow, but I realized this is one of my strengths. I have learned to fight for what I believe in, work harder than ever before, and to brush myself off and keep moving if I fail. Being an underdog, I have experienced the rollercoaster of emotions you have while competing. I have experienced the crushing feeling of being underappreciated and the extreme high of achieving your dreams. If you are labeled as an underdog, feel proud of yourself. Not everyone may see your strengths, but the people who matter will. As long as you believe in yourself and remember who you are, you will continuously succeed, no matter the outcome, and surprise the world.

Cover Image Credit:

Corrine Harding

Related Content

Facebook Comments